Big win for Lynx, snapping Storm's 13-game win streak
MINNEAPOLIS — After three close games with the Seattle Storm, the Minnesota Lynx have developed a sense of confidence against the Western Conference leaders.
After finally beating the league-best Storm, the Lynx hope it will help boost their confidence against other teams.
Seimone Augustus scored 24 points and Minnesota snapped Seattle's 13-game winning streak with a 72-71 victory Sunday night.
Augustus scored six quick points early in the fourth quarter to extend the Lynx's dwindling lead and reached 2,500 career points. She reached the milestone in 120th game, second-fewest in WNBA history behind Cynthia Cooper (117).
Charde Houston added 14 points and Lindsay Whalen 11 as the Lynx (8-16) ended a five-game losing skid.
"We definitely needed this," Augustus said. "Coming into the last 10 games of the season, I am quite sure we are going to face another game like this. Now we know we can get over that hump, when the last two or three games that we lost by two or three, we always kind of found a way to lose the game."
Sue Bird scored 16 points and Tanisha Wright added 15 for Seattle (22-3), which saw it's franchise-best winning streak end. Lauren Jackson, the league's second-leading scorer, finished with 12 points. She left the game in the second quarter with a sprained left thumb and returned midway through the third, but seemed bothered by the taped-up thumb.
"It gets to a point when you are on a winning streak and you are winning a bunch of games and when you lose, people act like this isn't the toughest league in the world to play in," Bird said. "I did not think that we were going to go undefeated the rest of the way.
"Tonight showed us some things that we need to work on and we are just like every other team, a work in progress getting ready for the playoffs and that is how we are going to approach this and move onto Tulsa."
While Seattle separated itself in the West, playing Minnesota has been a challenge. The Storm won the first two contests between the teams by a total of just five points. Seattle had won three straight against Minnesota, each by three points or fewer.
The Lynx have led heading into the fourth quarter in each of the three games. This time, Minnesota held on.
"We were pretty hungry to make sure there was a different outcome this time," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "Three times we were right there with them. If we end being fortunate enough to be in the playoffs and we play them, I have no doubt that we will have a lot of confidence against them."
Seattle appeared ready to add to the third-longest winning streak in WNBA history and keep pace with the 1998 Houston Comets for the best start in WNBA history at 25-2.
The Storm led 15-4 out of the gate, but Minnesota stayed within range and used a 26-9 run to take a 39-29 lead with with just over a minute remaining in the first half.
Seattle slowly cut the deficit in the second half, and Bird's jumper with 18 seconds remaining tied the score at 71-all.
Augustus missed a jumper on the other end, but Minnesota's Nicky Anosike grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled. She made 1 of 2 from the free-throw line and the Lynx held on as Bird's final attempt bounced off the rim.
"Eventually you are going to lose some games, it is tough," Storm coach Brian Agler said. "We have had the ability to finish games off and just about did it again, but did not get it done. Basically, we dug ourselves into a hole."
With the West's lone winning record, the Storm clinched the No. 1 seed in July.
After winning back-to-back games midway through July, the Lynx sat in second place in the Western Conference. A 73-71 loss to Seattle started the streak of five straight losses and dropped the Lynx into fifth place, percentage points behind Los Angeles for the fourth and final spot in the West.
"We saw two great opportunities tonight," Reeve said. "We see a great opportunity to control our own destiny with regards to playoffs. The second one was the opportunity to knock off what people are describing as one of the best WNBA basketball teams ever. That gave us a lot of motivation to go out there and win the game. The same motivation on Tuesday (against Connecticut)? I don't know. That's obviously the task to make sure we don't have a letdown."